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Pass national health insurance scheme into law, don tells govt

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Monsignor John Barugahare congratulates Mr Marko Baryaharwego (L) and his wife, Ms Bridget Baryaharwego, who are some of the eldest people in Ibanda District at the weekend. Looking on is their son, Prof John Jean Barya (R). PHOTO BY RAJAB MUKOMBOZI 

By RAJAB MUKOMBOZI

Posted  Monday, May 5   2014 at  20:57

In Summary

Risk. A university don says delay to have the national health insurance is putting the lives of those who can’t afford treatment at risk.

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Ibanda.
A Makerere University don has asked the government to expedite the National Health Insurance Scheme in order to save lives, especially of the elderly poor, who can’t afford expensive treatment and care for the diseases afflicting them.

Prof John Jean Barya, a lecturer of Law, said ailments such as cancer, diabetes, blood pressure and heart diseases are becoming common among the elderly but the cost of treatment and care is very expensive and many are therefore, dying.

Prof Barya’s comments come on the heels of the delayed passing of the National Health Insurance Scheme into law. The scheme, which was proposed by the government in 2007, seeks to ensure affordable, equitable and quality healthcare services.

However, the scheme has since failed to take off after sections of employees protested the move.

But speaking during a thanksgiving ceremony to celebrate the lives of his parents, who are among the eldest couples in Ibanda District, Prof Barya said delaying to roll out the scheme is proving dangerous.

“We are celebrating the lives and many years our parents have lived on this earth but it has not been easy. We have sacrificed a lot in terms of treatment and care. That’s the reason you see them living. But how many families can afford this given the high poverty levels among households?” asked Prof Barya at the weekend.

His father, Mr Marko Baryaharwego, is 92 years, while his mother, Ms Bridget Baryaharwego, is 89.
The state minister for Works, Eng John Byabagambi, who attended the function, said the health insurance Scheme is very urgent but has taken long to be passed into law.

“The health insurance scheme is very much needed in this country. The Bill is now before Cabinet and I also agree it has overstayed there,”Eng Byabagambi, who is also the Ibanda South MP, said.

“But this is because it needs a lot of research, involvement and consultations. I am convinced anytime soon, it will be passed into law because most of these (consultations) have been done,” he added.

ABOUT THE INSURANCE SCHEME
Purpose.
The National Health Insurance Scheme was proposed in 2007 to ensure affordable, equitable and quality healthcare services progressively to all residents in an efficient manner through health insurance.

The clause. Under National Health Insurance Bill, 2007, employees especially those in the formal sector (both public and private) are to pay four per cent of their monthly earnings to the insurance scheme.
Additionally, their employers would also contribute another four per cent while those in the informal sector or those with no job will be mobilised under saving schemes where the same percentage would be deducted for the insurance.

Research findings. A study by the World Health Organisation in 2008 revealed that Ugandans put 22 per cent of their earnings on health care and six per cent of the poor, who have the highest number of health bills, have to sell their assets to meet medical bills.